philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


VR in Best Buy

Best Buy has provided in-person demonstrations for Oculus Rift basically since there were real Oculus Rift headsets to demonstrate – the retailer announced back in May it would provide demos at 48 locations in the U.S. Now, it’s doubling down on that bet, with a plan to give customers a taste of VR in 500 locations in time for the holiday shopping season, according to Bloomberg.

Lest you think Best Buy is leaning entirely on Oculus to wow consumers with virtual goodies, the retailer is also going to be running demos of PlayStation VR in 200 locations, on a rotating basis among a number of stores. Sony’s PlayStation-based offering doesn’t come out until October, however, so Oculus could be the only game in Best Buy town for at least a little while.

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Virtual reality film to show life through visually-impaired man’s eyes

CqkbyR_VMAIKDbEThere was some cutting-edge technology being used at the University of Regina on Tuesday.

A production crew is shooting a virtual reality film about a man who recently arrived in Saskatchewan from Syria.

Hani al Moulia is a visually-impaired photographer who has come to national prominence for his work capturing photos of his experience as a refugee.

The 22-year-old said the virtual reality project will capture the new world of Canada through his eyes.

"You will see the world in a different way," al Moulia said.

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Augmented Reality Startup Translates Menu Items Into Pictures of Food

Screen-Shot-2016-08-23-at-2.17.12-PMWaygo is an augmented reality startup that focuses on visual, real-time translation for Asian countries. All you need to do is point your smartphone’s camera at the words in question and the app will translate into English in seconds. Yes, it’s that simple!  Waygo has added a special menu feature that will not only translate menu items, but will also provide pictures to guide you on your culinary journey.

With 4,000 dishes and 14,000 curated images, Waygo has got you covered no matter where you’re eating. Plus, you’ll be able to order correctly as well, as the translation feature has been used more than 8 million times by many satisfied users.

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Johns Hopkins – Can augmented reality help medical students learn human anatomy?

NavabIn this project, we will develop and refine a new interactive, augmented reality (AR) learning tool for anatomy education. The tool combines the Magic Mirror system and Balaur Display Wall to produce “in-situ” visualizations of medical information directly on top of the student’s own body. A gesture-based user interface (UI) allows the student to directly interact with medical illustrations.

We will assess students' learning by examining changes in their anatomy knowledge over time using knowledge assessments and course grades. We will examine the usability of the tool (e.g., ease, functionality) by exploring full-body tracking data, system event logs (i.e., learners' interactions in the system), and time required to complete assigned tasks in the system relative to their learning outcomes. Multimodal machine learning methodologies will be applied to analyze the data.

This project will produce a new personalized educational tool for students learning human anatomy and will be the basis for future educational intervention work in this area. Moreover, this work has potential implications for the development of similar AR learning tools in other domains, such as rehabilitation exercise, and for other student populations (e.g., high school).

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Apple’s AR technology could stop you getting lost in the mall

apple-ar-patent-navigation...a newly discovered patent reveals technology that would use AR for navigation purposes without requiring a GPS or cellular connection to work.

Called Visual-based inertial navigationthe patent lets a device position itself in a 3D space after interpreting data from the camera and sensors including the gyroscope, accelerometer, and others.

Using images and taking several measurements, the device can determine its orientation and position in real time. A GPS or cell connection isn’t required to calculate a highly accurate location, down to centimeters. Interestingly, the patent does mention that “smart glasses” are the kind of products that could benefit from such technology alongside smartphones and tablets.

Apple’s invention uses a technology called sliding window inverse filter (SWF) to minimize the computational overhead needed to combine data from multiple images and calculate a location.

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Virtual reality may look cool, but it will feel empty without community

We were in AltspaceVR, a Second Life-like virtual world that is one of several social platforms available to early adopters of VR with Oculus Rifts or competing headsets HTC Vives and Samsung Gear VRs. As rendered clouds slid past, he told me about Oklahoma City, where he lives. He was 15. I was wearing the body of a robot: a metal spiral with a featureless head, like the dot of an “i”.

“I’m probably the first person in Oklahoma to get virtual reality,” he told me, in a tone that conveyed both pride and great, inconsolable loneliness.

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How Sound Design Makes Virtual Reality More Immersive

sound-design-makes-virtual-reality-more-immersive.1280x600Dolby created a set of tools that work with the popular Pro Toolsdigital audio workstation (DAW) software to allow audio engineers to tether sounds to objects in 360-degree videos.

Of course, you can assume a VR sound mix will keep portions of the audio glued to specific locations, so when you turn your head, the sound changes as it would in the real world.

When it comes to recording the video, however, Dolby partnered with Jaunt to make compelling audio/video experiences in virtual reality. Jaunt created a series of 360-degree cameras and a platform for delivering the finished video. Together, they offer a set of hardware and software tools for creating immersive video experiences for VR headsets.

Not all headsets have support right now, but many of the more accessible options that utilize smartphones, such as Google Cardboard, do.

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Walt Disney’s ‘Fantasia’ Inspires Virtual Reality Creation

John Rhys-Davies in Virtual Reality with Innerspace VR wearing the HTC VIVE headset. (PRNewsFoto/Innerspace VR)

John Rhys-Davies in Virtual Reality with Innerspace VR wearing the HTC VIVE headset. (PRNewsFoto/Innerspace VR)

FIREBIRD: La Peri has been created as an interactive VR fantasy adventure and visual masterpiece inspired by Walt Disney's Fantasia.
Innerspace VR worked with a ballet dancer and state of the art motion capture facilities to create the guardian spirit - La Peri as well as the other magical creatures you encounter on the journey. The resulting effect is one of unparallelled life-like presence and emotion in a fully artificial environment.

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Virtual Reality in Physical Therapy

physical-therapist-assistantAccording to the ReGame VR website: “The ReGame VR lab focuses on promoting the sustainable, evidence-based integration of virtual reality (VR) and active video gaming systems into rehabilitation. We explore how VR-based therapy can improve motor learning, balance, functional mobility and participation in children and adults with neuromotor impairments. We evaluate motor learning paradigms in virtual environments to understand how task practice conditions impact motor learning processes and outcomes. Our mission is to produce clinically-relevant, high-quality evidence in the field of virtual rehabilitation.”

Dr. Lev Kalika of New York Dynamic Neuromuscular Rehabilitation & Physical Therapy has helped to pioneer a system of virtual reality-based physical therapy. According to a recent story published by, the use of VR in physical therapy has yielded some very encouraging results. For patients recovering from strokes, surgeries, or injuries, VR-augmented rehabilitation has shown hope for recovery.

One of Dr. Kalika’s solutions, the Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment, aims to treat patients with back pain, ortho, neuro, sports med and walking disorders. VR techniques are used to manipulate and expedite the learning process in both real and virtual environments. By focusing a patient’s attention on the effects of their movements with his or her external focus, the patient comes closer to recovery.

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Venice Film Fest to Launch Virtual Reality Feature About Jesus Christ


A 40-minute preview of ‘Jesus VR,’ billed as the first feature-length virtual reality film, will play for festivalgoers.

Jesus VR indeed seems to be the first high-budget VR film with a distribution strategy from festival to consumer. And Venice is front and center in its launch of new technologies, beating other top festivals to the punch.

The film will be accessible to preview for all accredited badge holders Sept. 1-Sept. 4 at Venice’s new VR theater on the second floor of the casino, which is equipped with 50 VR headsets and individual seats which pivot 360 degrees.

Shot entirely in Matera, Italy in 4K 360 Degrees, Jesus VR – The Story of Christ goes back 2,000 years in time to show the story of Jesus Christ from his birth to his resurrection. Employing over a hundred crew members and hundreds of extras, it is believed to be the most ambitious feature-length virtual reality film ever produced. If a success, it could help shape the way virtual reality stories are produced and distributed.

The film will release this Christmas on all major virtual reality platforms, including Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR and the HTC Vive.

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